Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Show One Loves to Hate (Or, My Guilty Pleasure)

In case you don't read Vanity Fair, with apologizes to those who do, I am going to reprint something James Wolcott wrote about The Real Housewives of New Jersey. He wrote about all the NJ shows - including the upcoming Boardwalk Empire (dang, I wish we got HBO). His column is hysterical -- I recommend it highly for the laughs.

Excy has been dismayed by my attraction to the Real Housewives series, with the exceptions of Atlanta (too ghetto) and DC (too boring). I've struggled to explain it. Frankly, it's difficult to justify loving trash when you know the glitter and tin-foil is cheap and a time-suck, and there are so many worthwhile things I could/should be doing otherwise -- or at least watching or reading...But it occupies my attention, and like a bad drug, I am hooked and keep going back for a fix every week. And I relish the lameness. I've even reasoned that if this is my biggest vice, I'm doing okay. Whatever, Amy.

NJ debuted in 2009 and was an immediate success. These girls don't play. These drama queens/big spenders live in Franklin Heights, NJ, which is apparently the mecca of big-hair, skin-tight leggings, anything animal print, and bat-wing eyeliner. You must wear flash, and sport false-tipped square nails, like the Orange County crowd. Your 'girls' (called bubbies here) must be hiked-up and over-the-top, and if you're lacking in that dept., you must have augmentation. (However, if yours are real, you must tout this fact loudly to all). I'll go into the home decor after re-printing Wolcott here:

Barbarians at The Shore (0ct. 2010)
...Residing in the palatial estates of Franklin Heights, NJ, these housewives with no housework but high-maintenance requirements take luxury living to its hideous extreme. 'Money doesn't talk, it swears,' Bob Dylan famously sang, and the money here screeches. The message of The Real Housewives is assuring to snobs and voyeurs: All the expenditure in the world can't buy you a genuine ounce of class. A recent episode featured a baby christening which may have been the most horrific since the multiple-homicide christening that climaxed The Godfather, this one staged on the scale of a royal wedding or a Steve Schwartzman Bar Mitzvah. At the after-party (christenings have after parties?) a young, ivory-wigged woman dolled up as Marie Antoinette served sushi * -- the perfect image for the Versailles excess and vanity of America's McAristocracy; we got so much money to blow** on ourselves we can hire Marie Antoinette as a serving wench!***** But where the lack of class makes its greatest cymbal crash is in the staged Dynasty cat-fights between rival divas. Danielle Staub (who is like a Witches of Eastwick co-sister to Mercedes Ruhl's jealousy-crazed wife in Married to the Mob).*** Season one thrilled the YouTube nation with Teresa Guidice's ****She-Hulk table flip, and season two graced us with the profane projectile cursing of Kim G., who tore off her disguise as a Lady of Leisure Who Lunches to go full-metal viper, calling Danielle "Franken-square tits" and telling Jacqueline, who was holding her baby at the time, that Danielle could go "f-ing scratch my ass." I grew up next to a military base, and I never heard the sort of language that makes for spirited repartee among these gentry. With its choreographed showdowns and f-bomb brio, The Real...NJ suggests a Quentin Tarantino film flying like a bat out of hell from the day spa....allowing audiences to spend quality time with the demonically possessed...

I don't watch Jersey Shore, (I can't bring myself to sink that low -- you can't avoid 'The Situation' or 'Snooky,' but God, I try)...but I have seen The Sopranos, Married to the Mob, Good Fellas, and the Godfather movies, and it seems they hit every cliche with the NJ girls. Excy's off the hook for awhile (he doesn't stay in the room but it's hard not to listen to the hysteria and caustic voices), until season three. I know he's hoping my interest will wane but like a train wreck, I know I will want to look. Oh, and their 'decorating' prowness? These ladies - I use the term very loosely -- reside in a world where everything is so eye-poppingly over the top and lurid it's as if John Waters sneaked in their house overnight for some interior desecration...

*on the tiers of her dress, no less
** this couple filed bankruptcy for $11 million in debt 2 weeks later
***really giving her too much credit -- she dresses and acts like walking the streets is her profession
****a gorilla is more evolved
*****and those dresses Theresa tricked her little girls out in (that were custom-designed and no doubt horrifically expensive) were beyond repulsive Bo-Beep type numbers...I expected to see the hats and staffs...


e said...

I don't know, Amy, but I think you could compete with the writer from VF for laughs here...

I hope you and Excy and the animals are doing well.

Doris Sturm said...

Hello Amy,

Just wanted to check in with you and say "hello" and hope you and Excy are doing ok (or as well as can be expected.)

I have cut down blogging and began crocheting more because, after all, it's just 100 days till Christmas and I need to send something to my dad in Germany that's not ready yet.

Have a nice evening and enjoy your shows. I don't watch TV, just Netflix!

Kind Regards,
Doris and Gizzy :-)

Traci said...

This is wonderful, I love the housewives and have been given' so much flack about it by Alex. I have shied away from the N.J. girls because they are KIND OF crazy. They remind me of that Bad Girls Club show.I do occasionally watch though and when I do it's magical in a: Wow, I'm a nicer person than I thought, kind of way. I have toyed with moving back east but now never to N.J. if that's how they act in the nice neighborhoods, imagine the neighborhood I could afford, I would be eaten alive.

I love that you translated words for us like "bubbies" and tell us what we should do if in fact our "bubbies" are real. I'm on Hulu right now and I hate to say it but I really want to see that Christening episode now...You know, so I can spend quality time with the demonically possessed.

I love how diverse all of your posts are, thanks for sharing.

Oh and BTW, you are so right about D.C. and Atlanta.

ain't for city gals said...

This reminds me of what I am doing right now! I bought the first season of Big Love and now am waiting for season 3 that I bought on e-bay!! i can't believe I'm watching it but it is so husband peeks in every once in awhile and rolls his

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

This was funny!

I have never watched any reality housewives show. I don't watch reality much except on the food network, HGTV or Amazing Race.
But you don't have to watch to know these people and honestly that bothers me more. I don't want to know a Snooki or Situation and yet they are everywhere. Bad behavior being rewarded I guess is our culture now. Dang it I'm too old to be bad or I could be famous and rich.

I have decided that I am staying the hell out of NJ that much I have learned.

Try In Treatment's last two seasons on Netflix for a real show to share with Excy. Gabriel Byrnes is wonderful in this as is Dianne Weist. (sp?) No action, no hair pulling, very understated, no explosions or fake nails. Very cerebral. But oh so very interesting. (It's on HBO)

running42k said...

It is OK to indulge in Brain Candy every once in a while.

Traci said...

Okay so, I was browsing Hulu and I noticed there is going to be a Housewives of Beverly Hills. If you get a chance watch the trailer. The other housewives have nothing on these women.